Judge denies personal recognizance bond for Rifle man accused in 2019 child drug death
A request made by a Rifle man accused of felony child abuse in the 2019 drug death of Sophia Larson for a personal recognizance bond, which would allow him to be released from jail before his next court appearance, has been denied.
Daniel Alvarado, 28, was originally arrested after the Dec. 11, 2019, death of 5-year-old Larson, who fatally ingested water that was contaminated with methamphetamine.
Alvarado was allegedly with his now 28-year-old cousin Stephanie Alvarado, Larson’s mother, when the incident occurred at her Rifle residence.
Larson accidentally drank the contaminated water out of a plastic bottle while Stephanie and Daniel Alvarado, as well as an additional accomplice, Bertha Ceballos-Romo, were allegedly using drugs. Later, the suspects allegedly neglected to initially take Larson to the hospital, according to court documents. This led to Larson’s death, which was ruled an overdose.
Stephanie Alvarado was eventually convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced by District Judge Denise Lynch to 32 years in prison on Jan. 8, 2021. The prosecution had originally recommended a 48-year sentence.
She has since been turned over to the Colorado Department of Corrections.
Daniel Alvarado would originally be charged with felony child abuse resulting in death and possession of a controlled substance (meth). He was also charged with misdemeanor reckless endangerment and later issued a warrant for his arrest, with bail set at $5,000.
Alvarado made bond and was released in late February 2020.
Judge Lynch ruled Thursday to deny the bond request after addressing numerous accounts of Daniel Alvarado recently not complying with terms put in place by the court.
In late May, Alvarado failed to appear at his arraignment. Meanwhile, Alvarado failed to show up for drug testing while on probation for a misdemeanor offense he’s dealing with in Garfield County Court.
“There’s already been a complaint on the violation of probation,” Deputy District Attorney Ben Sollars said. “And it indicates in there that at least their allegation is that Mr. Alvarado has missed every (urine analysis) that has been ordered in that case, despite those UAs being paid for by probation.”
Sollars said Alvarado also failed to complete a domestic violence evaluation in relation to those misdemeanor charges.
Since April, meanwhile, Sollars said Alvarado has amassed a number of noncompliance reports after he allegedly stopped conducting pre-trial services in relation to his child abuse charges. This involves failing to check in with the courts and take drug tests.
“You know, honestly, given the gravity of the case, given the (failure to appears) and given the complete history of noncompliance … with somebody who’s facing a significant sentence, you might think that they would want to show compliance,” Sollars said. “My impression is that maybe Mr. Alvarado has resigned himself to the fact that he might end up in the Department of Corrections on this case, and just doesn’t want to do anything.”
If there’s significant injury to the victim, felony child abuse in Colorado holds up to a 16-year sentence as well up to a $750,000 fine.
Alvarado’s representing attorney, William Palmer, said his client failed in May to appear for his arraignment due to a communication issue.
“He struggled to find a job, he struggled to find housing, he has struggled to maintain consistent and reliable communication. It’s been really difficult for him,” Palmer said of Alvarado. “He also was looking at a potential probation violation in a misdemeanor case.
“So as soon as he realized what was going on, he turned himself in the next day. It was a showing of good faith on his part.”
Once Alvarado turned himself in on May 21, his bond was set at $1,500. Sollars asked that Alvarado’s bond be raised. Lynch, however, ruled to keep it as is.
“(Alvarado) has not been in compliance with pre-trial services. They filed the noncompliance report in January of 2021, April of 2021 and, most recently, in May of 2021,” Lynch said. “So he has not been calling in to do (urine analyses) despite the fact that they are free. … So I’m not going to lower the bond; the bond is going to remain the same.”
Alvarado’s next court appearance is set for 8:15 a.m. June 24.
Reporter Ray K. Erku can be reached at 612-423-5273 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Officer Haley Walker sat beside her stepmother in a windowless interrogation room just before starting the overnight shift on Thursday evening.